Jana Smiggels Kavková
Jana Smiggels Kavková is a strong advocate of quotas because she believes that more women in politics and decision-making are needed. In her opinion, having more women in such positions would enhance the environment in her native Czech Republic, particularly in the fight against corruption.
Smiggels Kavkova explains why quotas are needed in politics: ‘From my eight years of experience advocating for parity between women and men in politics, I can see very clearly that the biggest barrier is political parties, at least in the Czech Republic. Instead of supporting women, they are holding them back. At the same time, parties are complaining that they are not able to find enough women who would be willing to run in the elections.’
Since 2009, Smiggels Kavkova has worked as director of the Czech ‘Forum 50%’, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting equal representation of women and men in decision-making and politics. Previously, she worked as project coordinator in the same organisation, and previously studied political science at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
‘There are two typical things for quotas: the first is that they work very well, and the second is that nobody wants them.’
One of Forum 50 %’s biggest projects is a campaign called ‘Coalition for a balanced representation of women and men in politics’, which was supported by many popular Czech personalities. Forum 50 % also organises campaigns to support women in elections and hosts other activities such as networking for women or public debates with women politicians.
In 2010, Forum 50 % ran a successful campaign to support women in the elections, resulting in election of 14 women MPs. In addition, 'Forum 50%' acts as a progressive, non-partisan think tank, and cooperates with the academic sector, media, civil society, state authorities and political parties.
Smiggels Kavkova is also chair of the Czech Women’s Lobby, a network of 25 organisations promoting women’s rights in the Czech Republic and a member of the European Women’s Lobby, as well as a board member of European Women’s Lobby.
Along with her work in the NGO sector, Smiggels Kavkova is active within the advisory bodies of the Czech government dealing with gender issues, including the Government Council for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. She also chairs the Committee for a Balanced Representation of Women and Men in Politics and Decision-making, where she is currently cooperating on drafting a law proposal introducing quotas for women in politics.